The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of more than 115 environmental, conservation, and outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums. Our member organizations represent millions of people who share a common goal of restoring and protecting North America’s greatest freshwater resource, the Great Lakes.

The coalition reflects a growing public awareness of the urgent need to restore the health of the Great Lakes, which are essential to the economic and cultural identity of our region.



The coalition’s mission is to secure a sustainable Great Lakes restoration plan and the funding needed to implement it. The coalition seeks to:

  • stop sewage contamination that closes beaches and harms recreational opportunities;
  • clean up toxic sediments that threaten the health of people and wildlife;
  • prevent polluted runoff from cities and farms that harm water quality;
  • restore and protect high quality wetlands and wildlife habitat that filter pollutants, provide a home for fish and wildlife, and support the region’s outdoor recreation economy;
  • prevent the introduction of invasive species, such as Asian carp, that threaten the economy and quality of life for millions of people.


Active Presence in Washington, D.C.

The coalition maintains an active presence on Capitol Hill to educate federal public officials about the importance of Great Lakes restoration through:

  • Meeting with members of the U.S. Congress, Obama Administration and federal agencies;
  • Mobilizing citizens to come to Washington, D.C. and meet with U.S. House and Senate offices as part of the annual Great Lakes Day;
  • Testifying before Congress and sending letters supporting restoration programs;
  • Participating in broader restoration efforts, including the Great Waters Coalition.


Strong Presence in the Great Lakes States

The coalition also works closely with its network of members in the eight Great Lakes states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to ensure that local, state and federal officials continue to make Great Lakes restoration a priority. The coalition accomplishes this by:

  • Meeting with members of the U.S. Congress, mayors and state and federal agency staff;
  • Overseeing a grants program to ensure that local organizations can successfully participate in the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative;
  • Hosting restoration tours for citizens, media and public officials that demonstrate how restoration projects are producing results for people, communities and businesses throughout the region;
  • Hosting an annual Great Lakes restoration conference in the region.



Formed in 2005, the coalition is led by the National Wildlife Federation and the National Parks Conservation Association. The coalition also has a Technical Advisory Committee of Great Lakes researchers with which it consults. The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition receives funding from the Erb Family Foundation, Great Lakes Fisheries Trust, Joyce Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Peter Wege and the Wege Foundation.

The coalition and its member organizations have built strong partnerships with citizens, local, state and federal governments, industry, and businesses to make Great Lakes restoration a national priority. It is a powerful advocate for Great Lakes restoration with public officials in the U.S. House of Representatives, Senate and White House.



Since 2004, the coalition and its partners have:

  • Played leading roles in crafting a comprehensive strategy to restore the Great Lakes, the $20 billion “Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy to Restore and Protect the Great Lakes” published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency;
  • Secured a $5 billion Great Lakes restoration commitment from Barack Obama during his candidacy for president;
  • Obtained billions of dollars from the U.S. Congress through the state revolving fund program to improve sewers and stop raw sewage from spilling into the Great Lakes; and,
  • Won historic funding – $475 million – for projects to restore the Great Lakes through the new Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which was passed by the U.S. Congress and enacted by President Obama in 2009.


Annual Conference

Every year, the coalition hosts an annual Great Lakes restoration conference that attracts hundreds of citizens, public officials and business leaders to discuss strategies to advance Great Lakes restoration. At the conference, the coalition announces its annual Great Laker Awards—which are given to people, businesses and public officials who have provided exemplary activism, leadership and reporting in the effort to restore the Great Lakes.


Great Lakes Day

The coalition also helps connect citizens with public officials through Great Lakes Day — an annual event in which more than 125 people from the eight Great Lakes states visit Washington, D.C., to meet with lawmakers and push for policies to restore the Lakes, protect public health, and uphold the quality of life for millions of people.


How to Join

For more information on how to join the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, contact Field Director Jennifer Hill (hillj@nwf.org).

Individuals can also help by joining our network of citizen activists who call or write to members of Congress about Great Lakes legislation and to regulators about Great Lakes proposals. Sign up for our e-mail list and get involved.

Our activists are also invited to join us in Washington D.C. each February for Great Lakes Day and take the coalition’s message directly to U.S. Representatives and Senators.


Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition Links

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